Rare TV has announced its first UK commission for a true-crime series.

Alongside the commission, the indie has promoted Susannah Zeff to head of UK development.

The UK’s 5STAR has ordered Body of Evidence (w/t), a returnable series that examines gripping British murder investigations that ran cold, only to be cracked years later by dedicated detectives determined to catch the killer. The 6 x 60 mins series was ordered by Denise Seneviratne, Channel 5’s commissioning editor for factual and factual entertainment, with Rory Wheeler serving as executive producer for Rare TV. Guy Templeton Murder at My Door; One Night With My Ex) is on board as series producer.

The series will be represented internationally by Paul Heaney’s new distribution and development hub, BossaNova Media.

Body of Evidence (w/t) makes use of innovative timeline graphics to highlight the key events of each murder investigation, while police interrogation footage and real crime-scene photos provide a tense and dramatic backdrop. Cinematically framed and interspersed with powerful testimonies from detectives, family members and crime journalists, the series leads viewers through the case’s intricate twists and turns before finally revealing the key piece of evidence that cracked the case

Rory Wheeler, creative director UK for Rare TV, said: “Rare TV is expanding its factual output to include true crime and Body of Evidence is a bold re-imagining of the genre and one in which we take great pride. We enable the viewer to step through the timeline of some of the UK’s most complex murder cases, while showing how dogged determination by the police and the victims’ families can eventually uncover evidence that stops evil in its tracks, no matter how long the wait.”

Susannah Zeff has been promoted to head of UK development after almost a decade at the company. In that time, Zeff has created, developed and pitched a huge number of successful programmes, including Chitty Flies Again for Channel 4, The Nile: Egypt’s Great River with Bettany Hughes for Channel 5 and Contagion: The BBC Four Pandemic for BBC Four.

Alexander Gardiner, CEO of Rare TV, said: “This company has become synonymous with diversity and quality of output. With Body of Evidence, not only are we expanding into true crime, but we are taking a fresh and innovative approach to an enduringly popular genre. Now Susannah is at the helm of our development efforts, the range and quality of our programming is about to become better still. The strength of her ideas is breath-taking. With Susannah leading our creative direction, our future growth feels more assured.”

This year Rare TV has delivered the latest series of Oxford Street 24/7 to Channel 5 and series nine of The Sheriffs Are Coming to BBC One. In addition, Tagged: Women on Tag has just launched on BBC iPlayer, while a new series, Hornby: A Model World, for UKTV’s Yesterday channel was announced earlier this month.

Other recent commissions include an order from Discovery Science for Ancient Unexplained Files, which uses cutting-edge forensic technologies to solve mysteries from 70,000 years of human existence. Filmed during lockdown, the series premiered in the US in February and will roll out into the rest of the world later in 2021.

Jon Creamer